Chapter 5: 2014 Summer Sunday Dinner at The Burrow
Ron landed and leaned his old Cleansweep broom up against a tree. Wiping the sweat from his brow he glanced back up at his nieces and nephews who were starting another round of a five on five game on the old family quidditch pitch at The Burrow. He eased down gently, stretching out his back as he slowly leaned against the large tree, grateful for the cooler temperature in the shade. He shook his head wondering how the kids had the energy to keep going in this heat. He'd outlasted all of his siblings and their spouses, but he was completely knackered.
"Have some ice water, son. It will help."
"Thanks, Dad," he said as he took the glass his father offered. Arthur sat down next to him in the grass and leaned up against the tree, tilting his head back so he could watch his grandchildren fly around the pitch in front of them.
"And to answer the questions you're not asking. Yes, you did have that much energy when you were that age. And no, none of your siblings won the bet on how long you would last out here keeping up with the little ones. Harry thought you'd last the longest, but he had you tapping out over two hours ago."
"Well, I guess that's something. I can feel old and worn out, but apparently I am not as old and worn out as everyone thinks I am," Ron scoffed only half-jokingly.
"Oh please, son. You are thirty five, and you are fit as a fiddle. Talk to me in thirty years."
"Well, you had the twins, so that had to add several decades on."
"You're telling me," Arthur laughed. "But of course I wouldn't have traded it for anything."
"I know. I know, Dad," Ron said suddenly quiet and looking down.
The two men sat quietly for a while letting the comfortable silence surround them like a blanket.
"Dad, can I ask you something," Ron asked quietly.
"Of course, son. You can always ask me anything."
"Can you imagine your life if you had never met Mum. Let's say Mum had never been born, and so you never met her, never married her, never had all of us. Can you imagine your life? Do you think you would have married someone else? Or just stayed a bachelor and focused on your work? Can you imagine that life?"
Arthur contemplated the question for a moment, understanding that Ron was asking much more than a 'what if' question. Finally, he responded in a thoughtful voice, "The simple answer is no, I cannot imagine my life. I can try to picture aspects of what it would have been like. But, it is actually much more complex than that. The truth is if I hadn't met your mother and fallen in love with her, and we hadn't married and had each of you, then I wouldn't be the same person. I suppose I wouldn't be the same person if Fred hadn't died. Or if a lot of different things hadn't happened. There is a core of us that I think we are born to be. And then we interact with the world around us – the environment, knowledge, people, relationships, losses, adventures, successes. They all change us. And, as your mum has wisely pointed out to me on more than one occasion – you can't unbake a cake."
Ron looked at him quizzically. "You can't unbake a cake?"
"No. You can't. You are who you are today because of who you were born as, but also because of all of the experiences that have happened to you right up to this very moment. And I am so thankful you are who you are today. And with the experiences you have form this moment forward, you will continue to become who you will be."
Ron simply thought on this for a while as his dad sipped his drink.
"I want what you have, Dad. I want a loving wife, and a crazy family that drives each other crazy but loves each other even more. I love my job, but I never wanted my job to be my legacy. But I wonder if that is what I am destined to do."
"Despite all of the prophecies we have dealt with over the years, I have never been one to put much stock in destiny. We make decisions. Each of us. Every day. Some of this decisions are silly. And some change our futures. You are only 35, Ron. You have much more future ahead of you than past behind you. Your decisions so far have been impeccably wise. You made a lifelong friends at eleven and stuck by him through thick and thin no matter the risk to yourself to save our world. You put your own dream on hold to help George get the shop open again and preserve Fred's legacy. You became an auror and are seen as the best strategic thinker the department has ever seen. You have been such a stellar brother and son and friend and partner. Even your own partner wanted you to be her child's godson. You, Ron, are a unique soul. And only a unique path will suit a unique soul."
"I've been trying to believe that, Dad. I have told myself – and others – for years that I would rather be alone and happy than with the wrong person and miserable. I don't regret leaving Lavender. That would have been a disaster. But, I can't picture myself happy at 45, 55, or 65 still alone without kids. I want to believe the right woman is out there. But I can't seem to find her."
Arthur nodded. "I can't tell you that you will find her, Ron. There may be no 'her.' To tell you otherwise would simply be patronizing, and you deserve more than that. However, I feel like there are some things I can say with great assurance. First – you will never be alone. You are an integral part of this crazy family. You are a son, brother, brother in law and uncle to this lot. You are surrounded with love. And you have a godson who loves you deeply as well. Embrace each of those relationships. Carve out ways to have special times with some of the kids. Take Hugo to a Canons match. Offer to be sounding board for James when he can't talk to his dad. Those relationships are gold, Ron. I look at my relationship with Harry – and I didn't meet him until he was twelve. I wasn't his dad or his uncle or his teacher, but we forged our own special relationship, and we were both better for it. Secondly – don't flail around trying to find a certain witch. Live the life you were born to live. Follow your path. And be the most amazing Ron Weasley imaginable. And then if and when you do meet your mysterious witch, you will be ready to be her true partner. I can't imagine you with a pushover of a woman. Whoever she may be, she will be strong and stubborn and challenging. Maybe it just takes extra time to prepare for such a witch."
Ron chuckled, "Sounds like you are describing Mum."
"You are worthy of a witch as strong as your mum. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment. Don't be discouraged, Ron. Keep being you. Trust your instincts on decisions and people. Love will find its way into your life in ways none of us can even imagine."
"Anytime, son. Now – you will have to help me up, though. I do believe by knee has seized up a bit while we sat here."
Ron smiled as he helped his dad up and they headed back to The Burrow. He realized his dad was definitely right about one thing – he would never be without the love of family. And for that, he was grateful.